CHICAGO – Lyric Opera of Chicago presents the Gershwins’ Porgy and Bess in a revival of the acclaimed production from renowned director Francesca Zambello, conducted by Ward Stare. It opens on Monday, November 17 with 13 performances through Saturday, December 20. Performance dates are Nov. 17, 19, Dec. 2, 5, 8, 13, 16, and 20 at 7:30pm; and Nov. 23, 26, 28, Dec. 11 and 18 at 2pm.
Hailed by innumerable critics as the greatest American opera, George Gershwin’s masterpiece of 1935 has lyrics by Ira Gershwin (the composer’s brother) and Dorothy Heyward, and a libretto by Mrs. Heyward’s husband, DuBose Heyward. The opera is based on the 1927 Broadway play Porgy by Mr. and Mrs. Heyward and Mr. Heyward’s own novel of the same name, written in 1924.
Onstage in the opera Porgy and Bess, an entire community comes to life: the fictitious tenement called Catfish Row on the shore of Charleston, South Carolina. It is there that the lame Porgy (bass-baritone Eric Owens) meets and falls in love with the sultry Bess (soprano Adina Aaron, Lyric debut), girlfriend of the hulking Crown (baritone Eric Greene). Bess leaves Crown to live with Porgy but is susceptible to the drugs (“happy dust”) offered her by the devious Sportin’ Life (tenor Jermaine Smith). The cast also includes soprano Karen Slack (Lyric debut) as the devout Serena, soprano Hlengiwe Mhkwanazi (Lyric debut) as the endearing young mother Clara, contralto Gwendolyn Brown as the earthy Maria, and baritone Norman Garrett (Lyric debut) as Clara’s warmhearted husband Jake.
Porgy and Bess will be conducted by Ward Stare and directed by Francesca Zambello. Peter J. Davison is set designer, Paul Tazewell is costume designer, Mark McCullough is lighting designer, Michael Black is chorus master, and Denni Sayers is choreographer and associate director.
Says Anthony Freud, Lyric’s general director, “Lyric had such a great success with the company premiere of Porgy and Bess during the 2008-09 season that we decided to bring this magnificent work back for further performances in Francesca Zambello’s vibrant, revelatory production. Ward Stare conducts an almost totally new cast, including the incomparable Eric Owens in the title role.”
For tickets and information call (312) 827-5600 or go to lyricopera.org/porgy. Watch video and read articles about this production at lyricopera.org/InsidePorgy.
Follow the conversation on Twitter: #LyricPorgy.
The Nov. 17 opening night performance will be broadcast live on 98.7WFMT and streamed on wfmt.com starting at 7:15pm. For those listening to the broadcast, live mobile titles will be available at lyricoperalive.org.
Lyric Opera presentation. Generous sponsors are the Elizabeth Morse Genius Charitable Trust, The Elizabeth Morse Charitable Trust, Cherryl T. Thomas and Adrmore Associates, and Roberta L. and Robert J. Washlow, with additional support from the National Endowment for the Arts. Production owned by Washington National Opera.
Operagoers can also enjoy the exhibit DON GIOVANNI: Past to Present before curtain and during intermission of all Lyric performances. Located in the Opera Club Wine Cellar on the lower level of the Civic Opera House, this new exhibit showcases the 60-year history of Mozart’s Don Giovanni at Lyric and pays tribute to Lyric’s brand-new production. It is free to all ticket holders and will on display through December.
Founded in 1954, Lyric Opera of Chicago’s mission is to express and promote the life-changing, transformational, revelatory power of great opera. Lyric exists to provide a broad, deep, and relevant cultural service to Chicago and the nation, and to advance the development of the art form.
Lyric is dedicated to producing and performing consistently thrilling, entertaining, and thought-provoking opera with a balanced repertoire of core classics, lesser-known masterpieces, and new works; to creating an innovative and wide-ranging program of community engagement and educational activities; and to developing exceptional emerging operatic talent.
Under the leadership of general director Anthony Freud, music director Sir Andrew Davis, and creative consultant Renée Fleming, Lyric strives to become the great North American Opera Company for the 21st century: a globally significant arts organization embodying the core values of excellence, relevance, and fiscal responsibility.